In 2015, Harrison Bader and A.J. Puk were teammates at the University of Florida. Both players now sport MLB uniforms.
Bader was called back to the big-leagues on Tuesday after starting the 2019 season on the St. Louis Cardinals roster. The speedy center fielder was demoted to AAA after hitting .195 over half-way through the season.
Puk may have had a tougher road. After being selected sixth overall in the 2016 MLB draft, Puk has had his share of setbacks. The hard-throwing left-hander underwent Tommy John’s surgery in 2018. The former first-round pick made his major league debut on Wednesday night.
Bader instantly made a huge impact for St. Louis in his first game back. In his first at-bat, he mashed a triple off of Milwaukee Brewers starter Gio Gonzalez and followed that up with three walks and scored a pair of runs.
Life is Bader with you! ❤️️ pic.twitter.com/V5tFdOIzan
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 20, 2019
His return impressed cardinals manger Mike Shildt.
In AAA, Bader hit .317 in in 16 games and clubbed seven home runs. He also drove in 15 runs and had a .427 OBP.
The center-fielder rarely struggles with defense. On the first at-bat of the game, Bader laid-out in center field to take a base knock away from Lorenzo Cain. Bader was back at it in the sixth, diving once again to rob Keston Hiura of a hit.
Bader's back… again! pic.twitter.com/VOEeRHLc21
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 21, 2019
His next performance on Wednesday night wasn’t as spectacular, he went 0-2 with a walk and a run. Still, Bader seems to have corrected his early season struggles.
Puk Makes Debut
The Oakland Athletics number two overall prospect finally got the call. After three years in the minor leagues and rehab from surgery, the six-foot seven-inch flamethrower made his first relief appearance of his career against the New York Yankees.
Puk pitched a third of an inning, allowing one hit and one walk. However, he didn’t allow a run and was credited with a hold in a 6-4 win.
— Oakland A's (@Athletics) August 22, 2019
Lots of Gators in the Majors
An impressive list of former Gator baseball players now call the MLB home. Bader and Puk join New York Mets NL rookie-of-the-year candidate Pete Alonso (.268 avg, 40 HR, 97 RBI), Tampa Bay Rays catcher Mike Zunino and Baltimore Orioles shortstop Richie Martin.